Why Vegan Food?
We choose to cook primarily vegan food for several reasons. Firstly, the whole idea for our food and condiment business started in 2018 while I worked on a vegan farm in Germany (see origins). Here I learned to seed, plant, harvest and cook over 30 varieties of vegetables. With quality vegetables and healthy protein substitutes I realized that being vegan is actually not as “impossible” as it may seem. In fact, a vegan diet may encourage some to explore more foods and learn to cook for themselves.
Another reason we choose to cook vegan is because I believe that there is a need for more flavorful and original vegan food in New Jersey. That said, we make use of our broad knowledge of different cuisines to create different styles of vegan dishes as opposed to creating vegan versions of non-vegan foods. I find it quite surprising how so many vegan foods try to impersonate meats and cheeses. It is also interesting how a movement and diet that opposes the consumption of meat and dairy tries so hard to recreate them and keep their names (veggie burger, beyond meat, vegan nuggets, vegan meatballs, vegan chicken tenders, etc.). I’ve noticed this tendency more often in the US than in Europe.
Consequently, instead of attempting to get meat-eaters to eat vegan versions of their current diets, we invite everyone to experience delicious plant-based foods more often. It should also be noted that in most places on the planet people eat less meat and less often. Meat is often a luxury and is prepared for important gatherings and holidays. This brings us to the next point, more vegetables also result in lower food costs for our start-up.
Meat and dairy have always been more expensive than vegetables, soy, and legumes. In addition, inflation and the overall rise of food prices these last couple of years have led us to decide to go mainly plant-based. We also try to keep more vegetables in stock because we know that they are safer to cook and store over time. The risk of cross-contamination and spoilage is greatly reduced with vegetables and this certainly gives us some piece of mind as food manufacturers. Our final reason for our shift to more vegan dishes is ethical in nature and deals with broader societal concerns.
We choose more plants over animal products because we feel that as a society a shift in diets to more plant-based regimens is important to protect the environment for future generations. As we know, meat production and consumption are some of the highest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to the climate crisis we are currently experiencing. In addition, proximity to livestock, notably in factory farms, is also a potential hot-spot for zoonotic disease (illness transmitted from animal to human) which, as we know, could trigger another pandemic. As you can see, there are many reasons why we offer vegan meals and emphasize vegan dishes in our cooking. For personal, practical, economical, and ethical reasons, we maintain that eating more plants is the way to go as it is healthy and important for our future.
The Big Questions: Am I a Vegan? Why Do We Serve Some Meat Proteins?
I myself am not a vegan. My diet, nevertheless, is mainly plant-based as I tend to eat meat only for a special occasion or on a weekend. This flexitarian diet marks a shift from my previous habits and has resulted in a healthier lifestyle overall. During the week I will eat 90% vegan food. I eat what I cook and try to avoid any food waste (a big pet peeve of mine). Sometimes I’ll add a fried egg to my dishes for some extra protein, to change it up a bit. Much like my personal eating habits, our business has taken on a similar flexitarian approach.We do serve some meat dishes on Thursday and are thinking about adding some protein add-ons to our Monday plant-based dishes. I understand that introducing some meat options is a delicate process. This is why before anything else we will contact our clients and see how they feel about this addition to our Monday Meals. Our goal is to keep our current patrons satisfied and also to find ways of growing our customer base in Middlesex County.